Patrick A. Dorn first told the story about his need for a new heart as a teenager. He tried to tell it again late last year, but problems with his most recent transplant - his third heart and first kidney - kept him from doing so.
Dorn died Friday, two weeks after turning 40.
So now his mother, Carol Dorn Simon, tells the story for him.
It was 1985, and the 14-year-old Dorn had just been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The Racine teenager's heart wasn't getting enough oxygen-rich blood out to his body.
Simon, 61, remembers her son throwing up a lot. He wasn't able to keep food down, she said.
"We thought it was an ulcer because of his age," she said. "We were about to go get that tested and they had to do an EKG. They saw he had all these irregular heartbeats."
The next day her son was admitted to Children's Hospital; he was there for 10 weeks.
When Dorn got his new heart, he was the state's youngest heart transplant patient. Five days before surgery he invited The Journal Times into his hospital room, where he said he was "very scared."
"I'm very positive I'll make it through," he said then. "I'm very positive I'll be all right. I'm staying in faith and I'm tough, tough in mind to get through all of this."
That attitude stuck with her son, Simon said.
"He was so sincere," she said after her son's death. "He was so sincere in wanting people to know how much he appreciated (the transplants) and wants people to know so they could do the same."
While there were initially no signs of rejection in 1985, that didn't last. In 1989, Dorn received his second transplant.
That one lasted until 2010, Simon said, but he again started to show effects of not having a strong heart. In October, he received a third heart and a kidney. It took about a month for the kidney to start working, Simon said.
Right around that time, Dorn contacted the paper again. He wanted to know if The Journal Times would be interested in a follow-up story on him, and promoting organ donation.
"I think it's more critical now than ever that organ donations become a focal point," he said by phone in late 2010. "There are still a lot of people waiting. The success rates with kids (are up), and they're waiting for organs. There's one that I know of that's here in Milwaukee, a little girl, a 2-year-old girl that is waiting for a heart."
Dorn hoped by telling his story he could give people a reason to become organ donors.
But interviews had to be canceled when Dorn went back into the hospital.
In February, he was diagnosed with cancer, Simon said; he didn't go home again. The cancer was related to the drugs he took to stave off rejection of the new organs, she said.
After Dorn died, Simon wanted to be sure his story was told again. Unless you know someone who has donated organs or received one, Simon said, it's hard to know just how important organ donation is.
"I talked to one guy in his 50s. He had such a terrible heart," she said. "He had a transplant and now takes a lot less medication. It's so common, and so neat people do this. They really don't realize how important it is, that lives do go on."
Patrick is survived by his mother, Carol Dorn Simon of Racine; his wife, Tina of West Allis; and two brothers, Bryan Dorn of Milwaukee and Michael Dorn of Racine. People are invited to meet with the family from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Funeral Homes, 4800 S. 84th St., Greenfield. A memorial service begins at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the family are requested; they can be sent to the funeral home.